theraineysisters knitting and so much more

February 9, 2007

From Susan — A Bit of Pixie Dust

Filed under: Oregon Cardigan — lv2knit @ 12:38 am

I got lost down the rabbit hole last evening (aka websurfing) and stumbled across the cutest baby and hat I’ve ever seen.  The picture is from Cast on Cast Off (a U.K. blogger):


I mean, how cute is this lil one?

The pattern looks adorable on the above cutie and is called the  Baby Pixie Hat from Crystal Palace Yarns.  I have no one to knit this for (thank goodness)!

I have 12 inches on my sleeve: over half-way done!  Woo Hoo!


It is disconcerting to knit the pattern upside down as I cannot see the trees emerging.  I hope when I turn it around, it’s correct!

February 6, 2007

From Susan — Pure Magic

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Oregon Cardigan — lv2knit @ 9:02 pm

Man, I’ve been toughin’ it out with my Oregon sleeve lately and have had some “issues” — today, issues resolved! 

I described the way I do my fair isle sleeves using the “magic loop” method.  My method has been less than magical.  You need a very soft, pliable cable to do the magic loop method.  Addis have changed their cable over the years (their timing sucks, btw) and it is now very stiff and unbendable.  For most of my fair isle knitting, I use US 3’s and have them coming out of my whazzoo (sp?).  However, A*St*rm*re yarn is heavier and so I am using a US 4.  All my US 4 needles have the stiff cable except my 47″.  That is just WAY too much cable to deal with!  I have been on a quest at my LYS’s to find a better needle and finally found an older Turbo with the old, softer/thinner cable.  I could probably have ordered needles from KnitPicks, but thought I would shop around first.  I know that Inox has some (out of production) and Susan Bates (not in the size or type I needed), so I hunted.  The difference with the new needle is truly amazing and is making my knitting SO much easier!!

I know many of you know this technique, but a couple of readers asked for details.  Here is the single loop method:


I simply pull the excess cable length between two sts about halfway around from where I am.  I knit to the loop and then pull the excess out half way around again, etc.  When the sleeve gets too small for the needle tips to feel comfortable, I switch to a modified double loop.  In standard magic loop, you pull out the RH needle, form a loop, and then knit across the cable:


I don’t care to strand (or plain knit for that matter) across the cable.  It is difficult to maintain stitch size and just feels WRONG.  My modification is to pull the second loop out a few sts back on the RH needle.  Therefore you are always knitting and stranding across the regular needle tip:


This picture shows how it looks when the sleeve gets very small, toward the cuff (I’m not there yet!).  You continue to knit on a long-tipped needle (unlike a 12″ circular with itty-bitty, short tips), you get the benefit of the magic loop AND you strand across a regular needle (not a dpn).  When I get to the first loop, the other loop is already positioned about halfway around, so I pull the second one a few sts back from the RH tip.  I keep going in this way for the whole sleeve.  I hope this makes sense and is not too technical and boring ;). 

I will use the 32″ ‘ for the entire sleeve since they did not have a 24″ with the thinner cable.  I am on a roll, my knitting peeps!

February 3, 2007

From Susan — Nuthin’ to Write!

Filed under: Oregon Cardigan — lv2knit @ 10:23 pm

As I have said before, knitting progress is like watching paint dry.  I now have 4″ 5″ 7″ on my Oregon sleeve.  Whoopie!!

Marina asked me about my fair isle sleeves.  I have tried most of the techniques out there: for my first fair isle, I used 16-20″ needles and then switched to double points.  I hated this for two reasons: 1) the needle tips are so short they are hard to knit with (the length of the tip gets shorter when the needles are less than 24″ in length), and 2) I do not like doing stranding across dpns.

For my second fair isle, I bought a set of needles in every length in US Size 3’s (20″, 16″, and 12″), and then 12″ US 2’s.  The tip problem was even worse on those 12″ needles but at least I didn’t have to strand on dpns — I still hated it! 

For the third, I used the magic loop method and LOVED it.  I started with 32″ needles and made one loop with the extra cable length.  When the sleeve was about half way done, I switched to 24″ needles and continued with a single loop until the sleeve got too small, then I switched to a modified double loop method.  I never had to strand across the “naked” cable and finished the sleeve all the way with a 24″ needle (long tips — yippee!!).  That is obviously the method I am using with this sweater.  When I get to the “modified double loop method” I’ll post a picture.  It is too hard to describe in words but is easy to do.

I am actually enjoying the sleeves because it does feel like I’m getting somewhere — at least compared to the body. 

It was extremely cold today (below zero), but I ventured out into the arctic blast — in nothing but my coat sweater.  I do not own a winter coat, which is unusual for a Minnesotan and also admittedly stupid.  It just hasn’t been that cold the last few years and when I layer up with two or three sweaters I’m as warm as anyone.  I may have to break down one of these days and buy a coat if the cold streak keeps up!! 😉

February 1, 2007

From Susan — Quickie Update Deux

Filed under: Oregon Cardigan — lv2knit @ 8:37 am

Hello!  I have been quite the social butterfly the past couple of days.  Tuesday I taught a class at The Yarnery in St. Paul.  It was called, “I-Cord: The Versatile Wonder.”  I covered basic i-cord, i-cord bind off techniques, double i-cord (one and two-color), and built in i-cord edging.  We had so much fun — the students were great!!  It’s amazing what you can do with lil ole i-cord!!

Last night I ate myself sick at a very good friend’s house.  I have known these people since college and still get together regularly.  We ate and talked the night away — well, until 10 pm anyway!  We aren’t as young as we used to be and all of us work today!!

Tonight is knit night, so off I go to another social outing.  It has been a fun and busy week, but not so great for knitting.  I have done at least 2” on my Oregon sleeve, but let’s face it — it is not the most portable project around!!  I will need to start something else SOON so I can have something with me to work on.  I feel downright naked without my knitting!

PS — this weekend is supposed to be the coldest in three years — so, I will hunker down and stay inside.

January 30, 2007

From Susan — Quickie Update

Filed under: Oregon Cardigan — lv2knit @ 8:31 am

It is minus 18 windchill this morning — brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’ll be wearing my long johns today! 

Sleeve island seems like a temperate getaway.  I am actually finding it a pleasant respite.  Who knew?  I have done 1.5 inches out of 21.5 inches, so I have a L-O-O-O-O-N-G way to go, but I’m enjoying it.  The good thing about top down sleeves is that they just keep getting get smaller!

Tonight I teach a class, so very little knitting will get done.  Tomorrow night I’m out with the girls.  Thursday is “knit night,” though not that much knitting takes place (too much talking and eating!).  So, my knitting time will be severely curtailed until the weekend.  Stay warm, my Minnesota friends! 🙂

January 28, 2007

From Susan — I Thought This Day Would Never Come

Filed under: Current Projects,Oregon Cardigan,Updates — lv2knit @ 7:20 pm

Marina, I never thought I would say this: the body of my Oregon Cardigan is done!!  I have been slaving on Oregon all weekend so I could get to this point.  I kept thinking, “Gee, I’m so close.  If I just knit a little bit longer….”   The minutes became hours, and the hours days.  But, I am at the shoulder grafting stage and almost ready for Sleeve Island.  I’m okay with that — it indicates progress!  Woo Hoo.  I wish this picture showed the true colors.


Now, I don’t have a sour grapes attitude, but really!  How fair is it that Marina does three blue stripes to the armhole, while I had to do four.  And how fair is it that Marina did six blue stripes to the shoulder and I had to knit past seven?  I’m not complaining, just saying.  It should be noted that one “stripe” represents a mere 24 rounds!

MarinaOregon.jpgMarina’s Oregon before Sleeves

Marina is a fabulous knitter and I hope a good sport — just jealous, M!!! 😉

I did watch a number of movies in front of a roaring fire, but did not get out much.  It was extremely cold today and I’m not that used to it.  Our winter has been pretty mild, so I am wimpy about the cold.

I may take a break from knitting tonight after grafting the shoulders.  Whew!

PS — the grafting is done and looks “okay.”


Grafting “head to head” will always be a half stitch off — there’s no getting around it.  I like how the partial trees form a spider’s web!

PSS — picked up the sleeve.  I am officially ensconced on Sleeve Island!  Thanks for the words of encouragement, Surly! 🙂

January 24, 2007

From Susan — A Knitting Tip

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Oregon Cardigan — lv2knit @ 12:32 am

I discovered that I had made a bit of a tactical error with Oregon and therefore had to rip back a few rounds.  It’s not a big deal if you know the “secret.”

I was teaching a class on fair isle and one of the students made a mistake several inches back.  She un-knit every stitch — several hundred per round — round after round!!!!  It took her hours and hours.  When I told her the secret to ripping out fair isle, I don’t know if she wanted to slug me or hug me!  I’m sure many of you have used this technique before, but if not, you may find it useful.

Take a circular needle ~2 sizes smaller than the one you are using and pick up the sts through a row/round that is easy to follow.  I am showing it on Rona because it is so darned easy to see.  On Oregon, I chose the last round before a color change.  Starting at the center steek (or beg of rnd), pick up all the sts* in that round.  Then pull out the needle (Note: here I mean the needle you are actually knitting with, not the one you used to pick up the sts) and unzip the sts.  Be careful to untangle the yarn as you go if you want to reuse it.  Sometimes it is worth going back a couple of extra rounds if it makes following a stitch line easier.


I use this technique on regular knitting as well.  You just need to make sure you are following the stitch line carefully.  It is the technique I use for shortening sweaters.

So now I’m back a few rounds but happier!

Looking at Rona so close up leads to comparisons with Oregon.  The new A*ice S*ar*more yarns are much nubbier and therefore do not yield as smooth and even a fabric.  The gauge is bigger, too (28 sts/inch vs 30).  Overall, it has a coarser, thicker appearance.  I hope it improves with blocking!

PS (to Marina) — I do not transfer the sts to the “real” needle — I just start knitting with the larger sized needle on the next round.

* Also, I should add some detail about “picking up” the sts: working from right to left, insert the tip of the needle into the right half of the st as if to purl.

Thank you for your comments and questions!

January 22, 2007

From Susan — Poor Little Moebius

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Oregon Cardigan — lv2knit @ 12:53 am

I took the finished Lace Tam to Amazing Threads in Maple Grove to drop it off and pick up Sally’s Moebius Lace Scarf.  It looked so pretty up on the wall, I took a picture.  I felt so bad for poor dejected little moebius that I wanted to take it out to dinner — fatten it up a bit. 


My moebius may still get done, but for now I have moved on.  Maybe this spring when the pretty color of the KSH and the warming temps re-ignite my moebial inspiration.

RE: the Lace Moebius (Fibertrends pattern AC39).  Since I did not get a chance to share this tip with the class, I will share it with others who may be thinking of making this scarf.  It involves the cast on.  I know many of you use the Cat Bordhi cast on method for doing moebius projects of all sorts, and it would probably work here as well.  However, the pattern comes with its own instructions and the buyer of the pattern may not have the Cat B. book OR the desire to use her cast on method.  Click this link to read about my tip under Knitting Tips. 

I worked on Oregon quite a bit and am now at the NECK SHAPING.  Progress – slow, but sure.  The original Oregon is a v-neck cardi, but I am doing something a bit different with standard neck shaping. 

I really have a hankerin’ for something new.  I have a couple of ideas in mind.  I am torn because on the one hand, you can only make progress when you stick to one thing, but on the other hand, you get bored and enjoy your knitting less.  It is a dilemma.  Knitting is a hobby and my passion and is supposed to be done for enjoyment.  When it becomes boring and drudgery — that does NOT sound enjoyable to moi!  However, I also REALLY enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I finish something.  Therein lies the dilemma. 

Note to self: don’t think about it too much or your head will implode.

January 15, 2007

From Susan — 2 Bummed 4 Words

Filed under: Current Projects,Oregon Cardigan,Updates — lv2knit @ 11:57 am

As Sally said in March 2006:

From now on, I will read directions. Really. I will.

I made a mistake on Oregon — not a deal breaker, but a bummer nonetheless.  I was supposed to do several more decreases on the armhole shaping to the tune of 4 sts each side of the armhole.  I didn’t notice this because I am changing the neckline and it was embedded in the instructions for the v-neck shaping.  Not a big deal, but I still need to deal with it.


1) ignore it and add 4 sts to the shoulders

2) cast off the extra sts now, re-create the steek, and continue with an odd shaped steek that I will trim before I pick up the sleeves

3) rip it back 

Obviously, #3 is NOT AN OPTION — do you think I’m effin nuts?  “2” was the option I was leaning toward last night (or should I say , this morning at 1 am), but I am now leaning toward “1.”  I don’t think it would be that big of a deal to have an extra half inch of width at the shoulder — I am a large person with square shoulders and a need for extra sleeve length (which derives partially from the shoulder drop, as we know).  The other benefit to Option 1 is that the trees would be perfect little half trees along the armhole.  Does that sound like rationalization??  Mayhaps.

As long as I am coming clean about my knitting boo boos:

I screwed up on the Moebius Lace Scarf.  It has the simplest lace pattern known to mankind — out of an 8-row repeat, there are really only 2 lace rows and they are EASILY memorized.  As I was knitting on each and every lace repeat, I would check the rows before to make sure the pattern was lining up. 

There must have been a rift in the space-time continuum (or I spaced out for a few minutes) because I added TWO extra yarnovers in the previous lace row (!#$%@@&).   Now, I could probably fudge one extra yarnover, but two is an awful lot of extra yarn to deal with.  Add this to the fact that it is very tough to SEE, given the tiny (Kidsilk Haze) yarn and scrunchy texture of the knitting.  I don’t want to “k2tog” a bunch to get rid of the excess because the fabric is so sheer, you might see a “clump” of thicker knitting.  

In short, I need to rip out a couple of rows — 378 sts worth.  THIS might be a deal breaker: if the class does not go, I may not be inspired enough to continue. 

I am off today, so if I plan on knitting I will need to make decisions about the above — like I said, it’s a bit of a bummer!!

PS — thanks to all who purchased the Lace Tam and Scarf Set!!

January 8, 2007

From Susan — Be Still, My Fickle Fickle Heart

Filed under: Blue Shimmer,Current Projects,Oregon Cardigan,Updates — lv2knit @ 10:38 pm

I am madly and passionately in love with this new arrival from Sweden!! OMG, it is the Bohus of my dreams — my Large Lace Collar Pullover (sweater on right).  I have wanted to make this particular Bohus since I first became aware of them (see Poems of Color to learn about Bohus knitting).  Instead I made Wild Apples (see Susan’s Gallery) because the kit for the Large Collar did not have the quality of black yarn I would have liked.  When famous Wendy (of WendyKnits) started HERS (from a kit directly from Sweden), well I was smitten and bitten by the Bohus bug once again.  It was not difficult to get Sally on board, so soon TWO kits were winging their way across the Atlantic.  Both arrived today!  Woo Hoo! A side note from Sally: We’ve been asked where these kits can be ordered. You can find information here. We are both planning to make the black pullover. As much as I love my Blue Shimmer, and I do, this yarn from Sweden is much nicer in that the spinning and color are more consistent. There is a cream color in the kit, and that was especially noticeable when I compared it to the cream in my almost-finished Blue Shimmer.


Here’s the thing — we are not going to start them right away because we are involved with other projects and feel the need to get something done on them first.

For me, the ‘other project’ that I am committed to finishing (?) is Oregon…

Geez fair isle is slow!  I knit and knit and knit and get no where!  I got re-inspired to work on Oregon because I made it to  to a milestone: the sleeve steeks. 

I did run into a little snafu ala Marina.  The sleeves were not centered to the pattern and therefore the shoulders would be “off” when grafted together.  At first I thought, “If it’s good enough for AS, it’s good enough for me.”  However, it really bugged me, especially when I took a look at it and the sleeve was only off by 4 sts.  So, I ripped out a few rounds to re-align the sleeves. 

Another advantage is that the sts go to the back, thus enlarging the sweater by two full inches — the extra inch that goes to the back and the extra inch I will need to add to the front bands to make the front match the back.  I need the extra width anyway because the sweater is a touch too small.


AS shaped the armhole slightly which you can see in the photo — I took off one additional stitch so that when I pick up the sleeves, I will end up with a perfect half tree just like the center front.

Sally reported that she is very nearly finished with the body of her Blue Shimmer.  She is also pining for the Large Lace Collar Bohus, but the siren song of her new Royal Alpaca is calling her ever so seductively.

So progress is being made, and projects are lining up.  Plus, I just got the flyer for the Minnesota Knitters Guild “Yarnover” event, which is April 21.  I am teaching the Beaded Amulet Bag class.  Yarnover is a great day of knitting and shopping at the vendors’ market.

Knitting is grand!

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